The Great King

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The Great King
Directed by Veit Harlan
Written by Veit Harlan
Gerhard Menzel
Hans Rehberg
Starring Otto Gebühr
Cinematography Bruno Mondi
Edited by Friedrich Karl von Puttkamer
Release dates
  • 3 March 1942 (1942-03-03)
Running time 118 minutes
Country Nazi Germany
Language German

The Great King (German: Der große König) is a 1942 German drama film directed by Veit Harlan and starring Otto Gebühr.[1] It depicts the life of Frederick the Great, who ruled Prussia from 1740 to 1786. It received the rare "Film of the Nation" distinction.[2] It was part of a popular cycle of "Prussian films".

The film is a depiction of the Führerprinzip, with the analogy to Hitler being so clear that Hitler sent a print to Mussolini, and Goebbels warning against the drawing of the comparison in print, in particular because the pessimistic mood that opens the film.[3] After a sergeant gives an unauthorized order, the king orders him promoted and punished; his decision to desert after this results in his death, because no disobedience is justified.[2] Goebbels declared that the parallels were not a matter of propaganda but an obvious result of the parallels of history.[4]

Goebbels also regarded as it instructing that their current sufferings would strengthen them.[5]

Goebbels had some difficulty with the Army High Command over this film, because it depicted the king left in a lurch by his general, and complained that the army felt that any depiction, however historical, reflected badly on them.[2]




  1. ^ "New York Times: The Great King". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  2. ^ a b c Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema p116 ISBN 0-02-570230-0
  3. ^ Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema p113-4 ISBN 0-02-570230-0
  4. ^ Pierre Aycoberry The Nazi Question, p10 Pantheon Books New York 1981
  5. ^ Cinzia Romani, Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich p93 ISBN 0-9627613-1-1

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